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Cannabis cartridges aka carts are a convenient, discreet and cost-effective way to consume cannabis. Many health-conscious consumers make the switch from smoking to vaporizing because it’s more gentle and may reduce respiratory symptoms. While some brands make proprietary pods with compatible batteries, “cartridge” generally refers to a tank with wickless coil that connects to an open-source 51 0 thread battery.

Sizes: 0.5ml produces around 200 draws & 1 ml produces around 400 draws
Oil color: pale yellow oils are trendy but lower-quality. Amber color may indicate full-spectrum/holistic oil. Very dark, tar-looking oil is less refined, low-quality
Viscosity aka thickness: pure cannabis oil is thick & needs refining to remove some fats, waxes & lipids to make oil less viscous & prevent clogs. High-end oil tends to be purer. Low quality oil may leak & often contains additives like TEC Temper (terpenes), vegetable glycerin, & potentially harmful polyethylene glycol
Flavor: full-spectrum oil undergoes more gentle processing, desirable for those who want a holistic experience with a naturally wide-range of cannabinoids and terpenes. Even if an oil contains high THC it may not produce the effects you want because low quality oils tend to add non-cannabis plant-derived terpenes with exaggerated taste profiles, closer resembling candy flavors than cannabis

Remember “Vapegate”? Prior to regulation, cartridge customers experienced lung issues and nausea which some attributed to vaporizing cannabis in carts. At that time cannabis oils lacked oversight and some tested positive for pesticides such as myc/obutani/ which is not rated for consumption and turns to hydrocyanide upon combustion. Vitamin E Acetate, a thickening/cutting agent was also thought to be a culprit. Customers no longer have to worry about vaporizer cartridges when they purchase from a licensed cannabis retailer because al/ products must be tested by a third-party testing lab, insuring their safety.

Extraction Methods Used to Make Cannabis Oil

C02: very technical, high overhead costs producing plentiful clean oil. Terpene retention is tricky so often terpenes are added later providing a one-note flavor Distillate: highest THC content but lacks flavor & complex effects: terpenes are stripped off leaving 90+% THC. Distilling is used to remediate impurities in oil
Resin/live resin: extracted with hydrocarbon solvents like butane. Live resins, made from fresh frozen flower offer high THC content & good terpene profiles
Live rosin: solventless concentrates are increasingly popular: broad terpene & cannabinoid profiles provide complex flavors without potentially toxic residual solvents. Lower THC content but produces desirable “entourage effects”

Types of Hardware

Cartridge material: low-grade plastic carts may leach into the oil; cotton wicks may burn & taste burnt. Durable tanks are made from glass, acrylic or ceramic
Temperature regulation: some devices allow you to control temperature. Lower temps produce more flavorful, less potent hits. Avoid high temperatures
Single-use vs reusable: a large amount of problematic waste is generated by disposable batteries & cartridges. Refilling can be messy but reduces costs

*TIP pre-filled disposable carts offer convenience but are more expensive and produce more waste than refillable ones
*TIP titrate your dose: begin with several small puffs to test oil’s potency and go from there
*TIP rotate cartridge to see if bubble inside oil moves; thicker oil indicates quality
*TIP you might think you want “pure” oil with high THC but there’s a trade-off: THC vs wide terpene profiles. A balance offers more dynamic highs aka “the entourage effect” & also provides complex flavors. High THC oils may produce anxiety *TIP only buy from licensed CA retailers. Black market products are not tested and might contain harmful pesticides or residua/ solvents
*TIP leaks may be caused by cheap hardware or oil, hot ambient temperatures or bending the cartridge
*TIP cannabis smoke smells more, so vaping is discreet
*TIP charge battery before you go, or get a quality device with a long battery life that shows the remaining charge so your vaporizer lasts all day

BASA is San Francisco’s longest continuously running dispensary.